Here is the English abstract of Dr. S. Mohammad Kazem Alavi’s presentation in the 2nd pre-con meeting of the conference “Theology of Pilgrimage" which was held by Astan Quds Razavi’s Foundation of Islamic Researches on June 14, 2023, at Mashhad, Iran.
Existential Theology of Pilgrimage
The attitude towards pilgrimage can be seen as a personal subject in a theological system and analyzed from an existential perspective. In this analysis, the act of pilgrimage is initiated –in an existential journey- with a departure from inauthentic self, resulting in an existential becoming that put forth numerous possibilities for human existence. Considering the existentialist distinction between being in-itself (en-soi) and being for-itself (pour-soi), the departure from oneself involves denying the former (being in-itself) and prioritizing the latter (being for-itself). This second being, unlike the first one, does not have a determined essence and its precedence means the precedence of existence over essence and restores authenticity to human existence. Pilgrimage is a boundary situation for transcending every day and ordinary life, which, due to complacency, has brought about the fall of Dasein, and deprived it of self-consciousness and potentialities. Pilgrimage, as a subjective phenomenon, is distinguished from visitation as an objective phenomenon, and this distinction is based on a differentiation that Marcel's establishes between mystery and problem. Pilgrimage cannot be solved and completed as a problem; rather, it is an existential mystery that one must live with and strive for transcendence. This becoming is gained through a presence that occurs in the encounter with the sacred as the absolute, and its result is the manifestation and emergence of one's authentic self in pilgrimage.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi